Le Dôme (108 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75014 Paris, Phone: 01 43 35 25 81), opened in 1897, is an upscale historical brasserie  in Paris. 

Saumon marine a l’aneth (dill marinated salmon) was fine enough, but it would not be hard to fine better versions of that, at plenty of restaurants in Paris 6/10

I came here for the oysters. It is actually Huitrerie Garnier that I wanted to revisit. Huitrerie Garnier is one of my go to places for oysters in Paris, but it is closed till September (From Sept to Dec, oysters are as fresh as it gets and Huitrerie Garnier operates only when oysters are at their best).  As I was walking nearby Le Dôme, I remembered that they have quite a variety of interesting oysters and decided to push open their door. The raising and maturation of oysters, in France, is taken to a level rarely seen elsewhere around the globe***. Many regions of France have first-rate oysters. My favourite have been the fines de claires and spéciales de claires of Yves Papin (Marennes Oléron in  Charente Maritime), Roumegous (Charente maritime), the Isigny, Saint-Vaast (Normandie), Gruissan (Aude), and many more.  This time, I focused on Brittany. In France, oysters are offered  by weight. Numbers 0 to 5  are assigned to oysters. The higher is the number, the smaller is the oyster (that is explained here). I ordered 3 types of oysters: the cupped oysters  boudeuse de bretagne (Cote Des Menhirs) and tsarskaya no2 (Parcs Saint Kerber) as well as the flat oysters  Plate de Cancale no.­000 from that same Parcs Saint Kerber.

The oysters matched what their marketing do suggest:

the hint of sweetness, the meaty texture for the tsarskaya. There is a lot of marketing / buzz behind the tsarkaya, but although a great oyster, I am not particularly enamoured with it in a way that some other oysters of France have impressed me.

Plates de Cancale had their typical light nutty flavour in evidence

And the boudeuse  had a concentrated flavor and it was fleshy as expected from  an oyster “that refused to grow”.

And of course, the nice fresh iodine flavor that every single oyster of this globe has to come with, was there, in every single bite.

Le Dôme served  perfectly well shucked oysters of fine quality with a flawless mignonette. I still prefer Huitre Garnier for oysters in Paris, and Paris has plenty of stellar oysters to feast on, anyways.

Mousse au chocolat, marmelade d’oranges, sorbet passion – classic French kitchen brigades are what you are looking for when it comes to a fine mousse of chocolate. The chocolate was of fine quality, its thick consistency tolerable, but there were many rivers to cross between the finer mousse of chocolate of France and this one (just not as dazzling on the palate). 6/10

Millefeuille ” Napoléon” parfumé au rhum et à la vanille – Rhum and vanilla flavored Millefeuille came with a spectacular rustic flaky look that some generations of French may have flirted with, at some point in their life, but it was not as memorable on the palate nor to the smell as the finer Millefeuille that those same generations have known. Still, this was tolerable, just  not as enjoyable as it should have been. 5/10

Overall food rating (Categ: French Brasserie): 6/10 Yes, the oysters are well sourced,  BUT such classic French brasserie needs to offer better renditions of basic classic French desserts such as a chocolate mousse or a Millefeuille.

Bottom line: Le Dôme is ideal for a piece of restaurant history in Paris. It has couple of historical companions in the vincinity. Last time I was here, it was 25 years ago and I am glad that such historic restaurants is still open. Couple of metro stations away, at metro st germain des pres, restaurant history goes on with cafe de flore, brasserie Lipp. On the culinary front, well, the best of classic French cooking in Paris will not come from here. It is neither good, nor bad.

 

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Mykonos was exactly like in the postal cards. No one will argue with you if you saw better island in your life, but Mykonos was as pretty as the hype wants you to believe. It was about the exact same omnipresent whitewashed houses, colorful doors, and eye candy waterfronts that we can all see in the ads. If you like beaches and whitewashed houses, there you go. 

I stayed at Platis Gialos, to enjoy both its beach as well as its restaurants (it is a beach area with an effective night life, mini food markets, spas, etc). Its beach does not have the soft white sand of some of the islands of the carribean, but it is very clean, its golden sand and blue water certainly easy on the eyes.

At Platis Gialos, I paid a visit to 3 of their most popular restaurants: Nikos Gallop, Yialo Yialo as well as Avli Tou Thodori. Avli was the best of the trio, followed by Yialo. As for Nikos, my meal, there, will not help you to understand its popularity. The effect of the free drink they offer to their patrons, at the end of the meal, could, perhaps, better explain that exploit (of being popular).

At 15 mins drive from Platis Gialos, you will find Mykonos town. From some angles, its waterfront is very easy on the eyes, although, to be fair, some parts of it is also utterly ugly. Regardless, this town deserves a detour while you are on the island. In Mykonos town, I ate at the very popular Fato o Mano, which I reviewed here.

All in all, Mykonos being touristy, one might expect average food. In that regard, Avli and Yialo fought back and proved that a touristy location can offer serious cooking too. I learned, while I was there, that Avli and Yialo are not alone, in that fight, as at  least 10 other restaurants are cooking food that are superior to what most of the local restaurants are offering. If that is true, Good, then, for Mykonos.

From the beaches of Mykonos, I took a ferry for a stopover in Santorini, the other famous island of Greece. 

The hype, there, is on such things such as the fabled caldera views with its sunset, the emblematic blue domes, particularly the mother of all blue domes, the one of the city of oia. All of them will be as impressive as your imagination will want them to be, but please do not be too picky about the blue domes…they are just blue domes and it is certainly not their fault if our imagination have elevated them to what they can’t be.

Imagination, overhype, it does not matter: Santorini worths a detour. They just have to work on their 3rd world airport, an airport that is simply a shame by western standards (poorly trained staff that are as confused as the system they are working for). 

In Santorini, I ate at Argo  as well as Ouzeri, two of their best restaurants in the capital city of Fira. Argo  has a Chef whose cooking was almost as amazing as watching the nearby caldera view. Ouzeri was on par as far as food is concerned. I also tried Restaurant 41 on the beach of Perivolos, reviewed here.

That Santorini had its caldera views marketed  as one of  the things to see once in your life,  virtually anyone who did not live under a rock … got that. But who knew that such a touristy location could hide great kitchen brigades such as the ones of Argo, Ouzeri, and many more. 

My last stop was in Athens. 

Historically, Athens is, obviously, a giant. But it also has a beautiful coastline that is easy to access using public transportation. 

In Athens, do what the tourist trapping advertisements are suggesting: stay in central Athens in the vincinity of Plaka. As a tourist, you will be trapped, anyways, so you may as well get the most out of it.

Outside of Athens, if the gorgeous mountainous landscapes on your way to Delphi does not seduce, then you know you are in an advanced stage of personal depression. 

Delphi will stun you as much as you love mountains and are a fan of the oracle, the twins of argos, apollo, etc…obviously, and for someone like me who qualifies as a fan of all of that, I certainly did not leave the site in a bad mood.

The signs that tourism is their bread and butter are numerous: well maintained buses for tourists, plenty of areas thought for tourists (Plaka, is an example), a subway system that is as easy to navigate as it is easy on the eyes, roads in great condition as well as an effort to post signs in english/french at some touristic sites. 

In Athens, I ate at the old tavern of Psaras, as well as Manas Kouzina-Kouzina. At the former, some Greek families were eating next to tourists, and I hope the tourists did realize that they were eating true traditional Greek food, done really well, because the Greek families felt like eating at home. The old tavern cooks superb Greek food. As for Manas Kouzina-Kouzina, I suspect it is not bad at all. I mentioned “I suspect it is not bad”…for reasons explained here. I also ate at taverna vizantino, which seemed to think that, because it is in a touristy area, where people just pass by, it can serve whatever it wants to people.  That shameful meal  is reviewed here. 

For North Americans: keep in mind that patrons at restaurants  are allowed to smoke on the terrace, but not inside. So you know where to sit if you want your food not to smell of smoke..

Nikos Gallop (Platys Gialos, Mykonos, Phone: 30 22890- 24306) is another popular restaurant of Platys Gialos in Mykonos, cooking cretan and mykonian cuisine. There is a small street with two corner stores, a spa, the public bus stop. There is just one street like that, in Platys Gialos ;) – On that street (a slope, actually), Instead of taking the direction of the beach, you head the opposite way, and Nikos is right there at the top of that slope. It is not even 5 mins walk between the bottom and the top of that slope.

Grilled red pepper suffed with feta was ordinary. This is a food item that relies on great produce. The produce was not bad, to be fair, but not good enough to make this dish memorable (which it can be) 6/10

Youvetsi with lobster. This traditional Greek baked pasta dish is usually made with beef, lamb or chicken, which are replaced by lobster, here at NG. Tomato sauce, shallots, garlic, red wine are the other components of that dish. They use orzo as the pasta. The dish could remind you of a tomato-based risotto (essentially because orzo is shaped like grains of rice), but it is technically not a risotto. Not bad and tasty enough, but not close to  the most delicious Youvetsi I had neither. The Greeks cook their pastas a bit longer than aldente, which I already knew, and that I did appreciate as it is, but keep that in mind if u like ur pasta to be aldente.    I think they should make their Youvetsi with lamb or beef as I am afraid the lobster does not add much, in a way of improved flavour, to tomato sauce based dishes. 6/10

Service: as it is the case virtually eveywhere in Platys Gialos, workers of the hospitality industry are aware of the importance of tourism in Mykonos and are trained accordingly. The owner offers a drink on the house (for eg, a glass of ouzo) to all his patrons at the end of the meal. 

Pros: It is not easy to attract more patrons than your competitor, in such a small area with so many restaurants. On the back of the hordes of people that kept coming in, on the evening of my visit, it is clear that NG won the popularity contest.

Cons: It is traditional cooking, I gather, but they can and should lift their game.

Overall food rating (Categ: Mediterranean): 6/10

Bottom line: They keep it rustic and homey, which is traditionally my preference, but this sort of food can and should be improved by better produce and superlative flavours. And that was not the case, here.  The bread was also an afterthought, and you are charged for it (this applies to most restaurants in Greece).

Restaurant 41 (Ag.Georgios Perivolos Thíra, Kikladhes, Greece 84701, Phone 30 2286 082710) is on the beach of perivolos, a beach that is very popular, its sand is not your  typical golden soft sand (the sand is black). It is built in what used to be a tomato paste factory, with a decor that looks casual and contemporary by the standards of nearby restaurants. 

I came here following a confusion (??) or perhaps …not (??): a local, who spoke good English and seemed to have understood my request for some great traditional Greek oven baked chicken/lemon did recommend R41. He told me that I could find that dish at R41. As I was going to discover it while eating at R41, they do not cook such dish…

Bread was served with some fine yogurt/paprika, olive oil/balsamic vinegar of first-rate quality, and a tomato paste mix (it was an old factory of tomato) that was of fine quality, for sure, but It is hard for me to be excited about tomato paste, however fine its  quality…

Tomato balls, yoghurt mousse & peppers coulis – tomato donuts , freshly fried, tasting great. Since the interior is not firm, it absorbs a bit more oil than a fried food with firmer interior, obviously, but that is how the fried tomato ball is designed and not a fault. Very good (enticing taste) 8/10

Lamb souvlaki, pita bread, cherry tomatoes, yogurt mousse, taboule (which is essentially crushed wheat) – freshly grilled quality lamb, the pita bread fine. I could do without what they call “taboule”.

Fava beans was a close second to the one I had at Argos, with perfected smooth texture. It came with a poached egg that they want you to mix with the fava purée. why not? It makes sense to combine both, but try the fava purée on its own, before mixing it with the egg. 8/10

Rivani- sponge cake soaked in sugar syrup (akin to a creme brûlée, but made with a base of sponge cake. Good semi-firm texture of the sponge cake. The caramel well done. Good 7/10

Overall food rating: N/A

Bottom line: The Chef at Restaurant 41 can cook, there is no doubt about that. My problem with R41 is that some items like the taboule is not the tabouleh that most people know. Apparently what they call “couscous ” is not “couscous” in its popular form, neither. Someone who never tried tabouleh or couscous will find this fun, perhaps, but It is not fun at all in my books, therefore it is impossible for me to rate this restaurant. I have no clue why such a capable Chef (average cooks do not deliver tomato balls and Fava beans purée of this quality) adds such unecessary touches to his cooking. I did not appreciate to be misled by that local who did recommend this place to me (Obviously, he was more interested to get this restaurant known rather than taking my request for some classic Greek food seriously),  but R41 is not a bad restaurant –  just remember that if you have some specific expectation about the food you want to order, I strongly suggest  you talk to them about it.

Yialo Yialo (Platis Gialos, Mikonos 846 00, Greece Phone: +30 2289 078916) is one of their highly regarded restaurants at Platys gialos (one of the popular beaches of the Island of Mykonos). It is located right on the beach. The cooking is casual Greek/Mediterranean, with a contemporary touch in the presentation.

Mykonian onion pie was freshly baked, and tasted great.  a great crust. it was stuffed with tyrovolia (a Mykonian soft white cheese), 3 types of local onions, dill. 8/10

tzatziki – I had stellar tzatziki in my life. this was not stellar, but really good (nicely balanced fresh acidity) 8/10

Herb crusted rack of lamb with baby potatoes and feta cheese mousse – the Greeks cook their lamb longer than what we are accustomed to in North America. Therefore, we are not in the same logic of the rose lamb rack’s meat that we tend to favor in North American. I was prepared to that. That layer of  crust on my rack of lamb is not my first choice, traditionally, but the lamb remained tender and was seasoned exquisitely.  

Greek Pizza had enticing fresh feta and  tomato flavours. A really good freshly baked pizza 7/10

Overall food rating: 7.5/10

Bottom line: Yes, Platys Gialos is a touristy area, but on the back of my meal, I cannot accuse Yialo Yialo of serving touristy food to its tourists. It has a talented kitchen with Chefs who have a good palate and seem to care about the little details that makes food better (freshness of the food, vibrant flavours). 

Vizantino taverna (18 Kydatheneon Street, Plaka, Athens Phone +30 21 0322 7368)
Stumbled upon this  taverna of Plaka while walking in Plaka.

Spinach cheese pie – not freshly baked, meaning reheated, consequently hard and dry

Veal with eggplant – delicious eggplant, delicious sauce BUT The meat was reheated, therefore…again, it was dry … and could not  taste as meaty as it should have been. 

Lamb lemon sauce – at first, it was available. Then 5 minutes later, it was not …anymore. Therefore, they asked if I would like some grilled lamb, instead, which I agreed on, only to discover that … even the grilled lamb …they managed to  reheat it…!!

Cooked to order is a notion they have heard of, at Vizantino …

Overall food rating: 0/10 Dear cooks at vizantino, how would you feel if reheated food was served to you at a restaurant? Chances are that you would find it insulting and you would confront the restaurant staff. I happen to be well behaved and I do not go to restaurants to confront anyone, but ….by respect to the hard work of the honest workers of the restaurant industry, I hope that  words will spread so that you start realizing  that what you would not accept to be fed on…well, you SHOULD NOT feed people with it.   Yes, you are popular, but in an instance like this, what I could not fail to observe is that there were just tourists at your restaurant, which, btw.. should not be an excuse …for a serious restaurant, I mean…to serve reheated food – On the back of this meal, you do not seem interested to be a serious restaurant. You are an insult to the hard working and proud professionals that I have met all along this trip in Greece, namely the folks at Argo, the Old tavern of Psaras, Avli Tou Thodori, To Ouzeri, Yialo Yialo, all true restaurant  professionals who are located in places far more beautiful and touristy than the “slum village” corner of Plaka where you are operating and could have rested on their laurels because tourists would flock to their restaurants, anyways,  but  herein lies the difference between you and them: they are professionals. You are not.

Manas  Kouzina-Kouzina (27 Eolou st, Agias Irinis square, phone: 30 210 3252 335) was on my way while I was taking a walk nearby. 

They cook food from all across Greece. I was there at 5pm, and at that time, what was available was basically precooked / reheated buffet food that was left from lunch. In the evening, you have a proper a la carte menu with freshly cooked food.

I picked a moussaka, which was less heavy on the stomach than your usual mom and pop moussaka, but it was a delicious moussaka, done well. This was a legit version of the moussaka, which deserved a better faith than being served reheated.

A cheese pie that I am sure would have pleased much more than the  reheated version I was having. 

A piece of feta cheese revealed a sense of careful sourcing. 

Overall food rating: 0/10. There is no other rating for reheated food and I can rate only what I ate. That said, Manas Kouzina-Kouzina was not dishonest (as they clearly mentioned that if I wanted the A la carte freshly cooked food, it was available later on in the evening), and their reheated food left me with the impression that the “real freshly cooked thing”, in the evening, has the potential to not be that bad at all. I will return in the evening to try their a la carte freshly cooked food in the evening.